DIRTBAG BOOKCLUB – UP COUNTRY by William Seno

This THROWBACK THURSDAY special is a great collection of first hand accounts from the men who explored and battled the wilderness and each other in the formative first 150 years of European conquest of North America. Check out these tales from the river, WAY BACK when dirtbags were paddling The Northcountry trading furs and taking names! The voyageurs were most definitely our forefathers! 

Excerpts from UP COUNTRY:
…We find eight or ten miles of rapids, more difficult than the rapids in other rivers. To drag our canoes, we must walk over flints so sharp and cutting that we have all the trouble in the world to steady ourselves against the great rushing of the water.
     At a fall of these rapids we find an idol honored by the savages. It is a rock formed naturally in the shape of a man; the head, shoulders, and breast, but much more the face, which the savages paint with their most handsome colors. In ascending, the savages never fail to make some sacrifice of tobacco, arrows, paintings, or other things, to thank the idol for his help. If they must descend, they pray to him to help with their perilous navigation…
PARADISE: Father Claude Dablon

…We paddle from Friday to Tuesday without stopping, with nothing to eat but a bit of salt meat. It is a pity to see our feet and legs bloodied from pulling our canoes up the swift rapids, over rocks with such sharp points. Nothing but the fear of death could make men do what we do…
CAESARS IN THE WILDERNESS: Pierre Espirit Radisson
…Near the mouth of the Minnesota River I overtook a young Winnebago chief who was traveling… He agreed to go with me to see the Falls of St. Anthony, because his curiosity had been excited by accounts of this waterfall. We were forced to leave our canoes because of the ice on the river…
    Fifteen miles before we reached the falls, we could hear the noise of the water. I was greatly surprised when I approached this astonishing work of nature… The young chief began a prayer to the Great Soirit, whose home he imagined this falls to be. He said he had come a long way to adore the Great Spirit, and now he would make the best offerings in his power. He first threw his pipe into the river, then his roll of tobacco, his bracelets, a necklace of beads, and last, his earrings… We then smoked my pipe in honor of the Great Spirit.
  …This beautiful cataract is 250 yards across. It’s waters fall 30 feet, and the rapids below add to the descent… Here the eagles are safe from the attacks of man or beast, guarded by the rapids which the Indians never attempt to pass. The eagles find a constant supply of good in the animals and fish that are dashed to pieces by the falls…
UNKNOWN DOMINION: Jonathan Carver

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